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HC's hold on 25 pc deduction from prisoners' wages for victim welfare fund

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The High Court on Monday put on hold a practice in the Jail under which 25 per cent of the salaries of prisoners is deducted for a victim compensation fund.

A bench of and Justice V K Rao stayed the deductions till February 8, 2019, the next date of hearing on a PIL which has opposed this practice.

The plea by one Katyayini, filed through Ajay Verma, has sought quashing of an August 2006 notification and the of 1988 which mandate the deduction.

The State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) has also opposed the deduction for creating a victim compensation fund, saying it was "not reasonable or justified" as the AAP has now created a scheme for victims.

The DSLSA said the rule for deducting 25 per cent of wages of prisoners was inserted in the Delhi when there was no provision for compensating victims under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

However, in 2009, a provision was inserted in CrPC for putting in place a scheme for compensating victims or their dependants, the DSLSA has said in an affidavit and added that subsequently the Delhi Victims Compensation Scheme came into force.

No purpose would be served by maintaining a separate victim welfare fund with the jails, it has said.

"In view of the Delhi Victims Compensation Scheme and Fund, the significance of deduction of wages of prisoners is lost.

"Moreover, the rates of wages which are payable to the prisoners show that they are already on a very low side compared to the minimum wages that are payable in Delhi and further deduction from the same may not be justified or proper. The deduction from the wages of the prisoners for contribution to the victim welfare fund does not appear reasonable and justified," the DSLSA has said.

With regard to utilisation of the money, more than Rs 14 crore, which is presently lying unused in the victim welfare fund in the jail, the DSLSA said it could either be transferred to the or be moved into the corpus created in 2014 for providing financial sustenance, education and welfare of children of incarcerated parents.

The authority, however, was not in favour of reimbursing the amounts to the prisoners, saying it would be a "highly tedious task and may not be called for in absence of any prisoner having come

"It is respectfully submitted that there are a number of convicts in the jails whose children need support under the said scheme but the funds available are not sufficient. Moreover, if the funds are transferred to the said scheme (of 2014), it would achieve the objective that the funds are utilized for the benefit of children of the convicts themselves," the DSLSA has said.

The court on the last date had questioned the practice of 25 per cent deduction from prisoners wages for a victim welfare fund, saying it was the government's obligation to set up such a corpus.

It had said the of Prisons of the Delhi "cannot do something which was not permissible under the law".

The PIL has claimed that of the over Rs 15 crore collected since 2006 from wages of convicts lodged in the Jail, approximately only Rs 80.73 lakh has been disbursed to 194 eligible victims and the remaining over Rs 14 crore lay unused.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, December 03 2018. 21:00 IST